Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

Meaningful Gifts for Mother’s Day

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

By Whitney McGowan,, Inc.

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10th. With the current state of the economy, you may not be able to afford a fancy gift or an expensive meal. However, my mother always taught me that “presence was more important than presents.” The gifts of self and time are often considered to be greater than gifts bought with money. How can you show your mom or grandma that you love them? Here are a few simple ideas that don’t cost a lot of money.

1. Send your mom or grandma a card expressing thanks for all they have done for you. You could comment on advice they have given you, memories you have of them, characteristics that you love about them, etc. You could buy the card or make one yourself.

2. Provide breakfast in bed. Who doesn’t love waking up to a homemade meal delivered straight to the bed room? You could make heart-shaped pancakes, omelets, scrambled eggs—whatever your mother or grandmother likes.

3. Take some time to print off some of your favorite photos of your mother, grandmother, or fun times you have had with your family. You could put them in a book, a frame, or wrap a bow around the stack of photos. If you really want to go the extra mile, consider labeling all of the photos.

4. Go on a walk or drive with your mother or grandmother and express your gratitude for all they have done for you.

.5. A small gift: Find something inexpensive that your mother likes, and perhaps hasn’t purchased for herself in a while. It could be a simple thing such as her favorite kind of cookies, bubble bath, a new gardening tool, a journal, etc.

6. Flowers: Cut flowers are beautiful, but they don’t last a long time. My mother personally prefers perennials or even some annuals. Purchase a flower or two that your mother or grandmother can plant. Most of these plants are only a few dollars each, and she gets to enjoy them much longer.

7. A special event: There are many places or events you can attend for free (museums, performances, parks, plays, concerts, etc.). Set a time to have a nice outing with your mom or grandma.

8. Help your mother or grandmother find their ancestors. offers low monthly rates, as well as free trials.  Click here to learn how to get started

Keep Your Loved Ones Free From Swine Flu This Mother’s Day

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Protect yourself and your loved ones from swine flu this Mother’s Day holiday  by taking some simple precautions:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds.
  • Try to avoid contact with individuals who have symptoms of the flue
  • If you have a cough, wear a mask and try to stay away from others
  • Get adequate rest, drink lots of fluids, and eat nutritional meals

What is the Swine Flu?

Swine influenza (also called swine flu, hog flu, and pig flu) refers to influenza caused by those strains of influenza virus called swine influenza virus (SIV) that usually infect

Symptoms include:

  • Fever (usually over 100 degree F)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches/ Headaches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Occasionally Diarrhea and Vomiting

According to the World Health Organization, as of May 6th, 23 countries have officially reported a total of 1893 cases of influenza A (H1N1). Mexico has reported 942 laboratory confirmed human cases of infection, including 29 deaths. The United States has reported 642 cases of the swine flu, resulting in 2 deaths.

Were Your Ancestors on the Titanic?

Friday, April 17th, 2009

By Whitney McGowan,, Inc.
On April 15, 1912 the Titanic sank deep into the freezing Atlantic after hitting
an iceberg approximately two hours and 40 minutes earlier (on April 14th). At the
time, the Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world.

Approximately 1,517 people died. The overall survival rate for men was 20 percent,
for women it was 74 percent, and for children, it was 52 percent. Fewer men survived
as there was a policy of allowing women and children to board the 20 lifeboats first.
These boats consisted of 14 lifeboats each designed to carry 65 passengers; 2 emergency
boats, each with a capacity of 40 passengers; and 4 collapsible boats, each with
a capacity of 47 passengers. Unfortunately, all of the boats were not filled to
capacity as some of the Titanic passengers were reluctant to leave what they thought
was a safer ship.

The Titanic began its voyage from Southhampton, England in hopes of reaching New
York City, New York. Edward J. Smith was the captain of the Titanic. After crossing
the English Channel the Titanic stopped at Cherbourg, France, and then Queenstown,
Ireland. Approximately 2,240 people were on board when the Titanic set out for New

Many prominent people at that time were traveling in first class. Some of these
people included: John Jacob Astor IV and his wife Madeleine Force Astor, industrialist
Benjamin Guggenheim, Macy’s owner Isidor Straus and his wife Ida, Denver millionairess
Margaret “Molly” Brown, Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife couturière Lucy (Lady
Duff-Gordon), George Elkins Widener and his wife Eleanor; cricketer and businessman
John Borland Thayer with his wife Marian and their seventeen-year-old son Jack,
journalist William Thomas Stead, the Countess of Rothes, United States presidential
aide Archibald Butt, author and socialite Helen Churchill Candee, author Jacques
Futrelle his wife May and their friends, Broadway producers Henry and Rene Harris
and silent film actress Dorothy Gibson. (List of prominent names taken from:

To view a list of the Titanic passengers and crew, click here.

To view a list of only the first-class passengers and crew members on the Titanic, click here.

At you can find many historic newspapers that cover the story
of the “unsinkable” ship, the Titanic. You may even find a record of one of your
ancestors who was on the Titanic.

Here are examples of just a few:

Waterloo Evening Courier:
Titanic, Largest Steamer Ever Built, Strikes Iceberg and Calls Help

Titusville Morning Herald:
Liner Titanic Struck an Iceburg on Sunday: Greatest Ship Afloat on her Maiden Voyage
is Damaged

Abilene Daily Reporter:

Loss of Life on the Titanic May Be Greater Than First Estimated

A partner of, Find A Grave, has a page containing the full listing
of Titanic graves, as well as a page for Titanic passengers.

New, Inc. Corporate Site

Thursday, January 29th, 2009, Inc. recently launched a new corporate site: We’re excited to provide you with information about our current projects, blog posts, articles in the press, and more!

When you visit, you can also see what jobs are available. For example, today we posted a job description for the new position of chief genealogy officer. We are also looking for a systems administrator/architect, and an outbound sales consultant. If you think you may be a good fit for any of these jobs, please go to

If you are interested in advertising with, Inc. you will find information at

We hope you enjoy the new site!

Genealogical New Year’s Resolutions

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

By Whitney Ransom McGowan

It’s 2009, and if you are like many people throughout the world, January is a time to set some goals and aspirations for the new year.

I once heard the expression, “May your troubles last as long as your New Year’s Resolutions.” I hope you are able to make and reach the goals you set at the start of this year. A few ways I have found to keep my New Year’s Resolutions is to write them down; make small, measurable goals, and then share them with a friend or family member.

If you are a genealogist, here are a few resolutions you may want to put on your list for this year….

1. Start keeping a journal.
2. Interview a family member about his or her life.
3. Write names, dates, and places on the back of your photos.
4. Digitize your photos and share them online (also helps in case something happens to your hard copies).
5. Break down at least one brick wall.
6. Share your research with a family member or friend… or even with someone who is researching the same name.
7. Attend a genealogical conference. (Pre-register for the conference to take advantage of an early bird price.)
8. Join a genealogical society.
9. Convert your VHS tapes to DVD or CD.
10. Plan a road trip to visit a cemetery, court house, or relative.
11. Enroll in a genealogy course. Genealogy courses are available for beginners, experts, and everyone in between.
12. Become a certified genealogist.
13. Purchase a subscription to

Regardless of your goals, I hope you will set some, specifically in the genealogical area and make some progress. Happy New Year!

The Rich Heritage of Christmas Traditions

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Family traditions, especially traditions associated with holidays, help form the heritage of each individual. Along with the pedigree charts, group sheets, and family histories that naturally come with genealogy work, a rich resource that could uncover new perspectives on your ancestors is to discover more about their family traditions.

Perhaps your ancestors were immigrants to a new country and brought with them traditions from their native land. This Christmas season we suggest you search out a Christmas tradition from the country of one of your ancestors, and document it for future generations.
Here are some examples of Christmas traditions from around the World to help get you started.

One of the most unique traditions we discovered in our search happens a in Finland. Just before the start of Christmas festivities, families and friends go to the sauna and then dress up in clean clothes for a Christmas dinner, which is usually served from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In Central Europe countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary, the main celebration happens on Christmas Eve. During the day, individuals usually don’t eat. In some areas children are told they’ll see a golden pig if they can make it until dinner. The actual meal served varies from country to country. For example, in the Czech Republic their meal includes a fish or cabbage soup and breaded roasted carp with potato salad. In Poland, the meal often includes Golabki filled with Kasza, Pierogies, Borscht, and pickled Herring. A wonderful common holiday tradition in these countries is for people to gather together as families. Many families bring their grandparents into their homes during Christmas.

One of the best resources we found online (besides Google!) to learn more about Christmas traditions around the word is Wikipededia at

Share what you find with your family!

Happy Thanksgiving From!

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

We are grateful for you, and we are grateful for these records. In celebration of Thanksgiving, we have gathered a few databases that relate to Thanksgiving. Click on the links below to access these databases.A Record of the Names of the Passengers on the Good Ship Mayflower in December 1620

Old Plymouth Trails

Old Plymouth: A Guide to its Localities and Objects of InterestPlymouth Memories of an Octogenarian

Shawmut: The Settlement of Boston by the Puritan Pilgrims

The Pilgrims of Boston and Their Descendants

The Romantic Story of the Mayflower Pilgrims and its Place in Life of Today

Gratitude List on Genealogy

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

By Whitney McGowan,, Inc. 

With another Thanksgiving upon us, I wanted to write a short list of some of the things I am grateful for that have helped me and others find their ancestors.

First, thanks to our members at who have supported us, believed in us, and have provided us with feedback on how we can make our site better.

I am grateful for my family members who have taken the time to write the names, dates, and places on the back of their photos. Doing this saves has saved a great deal of time and confusion.

I am grateful for websites such as, Footnote, and that contain millions and even billions of records that I can search to find my ancestors… and at a low price! For example, currently has 1.2 billion records on its site. Access to all of these records is available at a discounted price of only $9.95 per month for an annual subscription to the World Collection. Click here for details.

I am grateful for the programmers and developers who created the search engines to make searching by name, keyword, place, and location a possibility.

I am grateful for those individuals who took the time to scan and index all of these records, making it simple for us to access them.

I am grateful for some of my family members who have devoted their lives to doing my family’s genealogy-allowing me to start many generations down the line on my pedigree charts.

I am grateful for technology that allows me to preserve memories now (i.e. audio recorders, .mp3 files, video cameras, computers, etc.).

I am grateful for people and organizations that have created, kept, and maintained records for me, and others, to search.

I am grateful for all the individuals who run and take part in genealogical societies. These individuals put on conferences, preserve and store genealogy records, inform others about family history, and much more.

I am grateful that it is not a necessity for me to travel to places like Ireland and England (although it would be fun) to find census records, wills, land and property records, birth, marriage, and death records that people have microfilmed, containing information about my ancestors.

I am grateful that there are many actual cemeteries (as well as online cemeteries) throughout the world where I can see the actual headstones of my ancestors (containing important information about their lives). I’m also grateful for who the individuals who maintain these cemeteries.

I am grateful for family members who have been willing to let me interview them as they have shared stories about their lives and also provided photos to me.

I am grateful that my mother taught me at a young age the value of keeping a journal. I have been keeping a daily journal now since I was 8! She didn’t talk to me about where I was going to store more than 20 journals. (I have since switched to digital journals.)

During this Thanksgiving holiday take time to be grateful for the things that matter in your life and to thank the individuals who have impacted your life for good.

Get That Interview In While Gathering With Friends and Family For the Holidays

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

By Whitney Ransom McGowan,, Inc.

For many, holidays are a great time for families to gather and spend time together. If your Thanksgiving holiday isn’t too filled with cranberry sauce and turkey, you may be able to take the time to talk with your family members about family history. If you are not celebrating Thanksgiving, take time to talk with your family members anyway!

I love talking with my grandparents. When I was 15 years old, I wrote my grandfather’s life history. I was eight years old when he died, and he was only in his fifties when he passed away. I really wanted to know more about what he was like. My grandfather had seven children. So, I first went to all of his children and interviewed them. I also interviewed all of his siblings who were alive at the time. I gathered photos along the way as well. When I recorded the interviews, I just listened and wrote down important points. I asked them to tell me memories they had of my grandfather (what he was like, their favorite memory of him, etc.). Unfortunately, about 20 pages into the writing, I somehow deleted the file on my computer and had to start all over again! Of course, the second time around, I gained an even greater appreciation and love for my grandfather and really embedded the details of his life into my own. When the writing was finished, I made copies of the pictures I had gathered, and put it all in a book. I gave a copy to each of my family members as a Christmas gift.

Although my family members were very appreciative of the book, if I were to do it again, I would do some things differently. First, I would get an audio recording, as well as a video recording of the people whom I interviewed. I would scan all of the photos. I would ask more questions while I was interviewing my family members. I would even interview some of them on more than one occasion to get additional information. Doing several interviews would give them time to think about the questions I asked and also give them time to see if they had anything else they wanted to add. I would also create a copy of the book in digital format and provide a digital copy, as well as a hard copy to all of my family members. I would also put together a video to go with the book. I would keep several backup copies of the file I was working on… just in case I somehow deleted one of them.

If you want to interview some of your family members, or if you want them to interview you, here are a few questions you might use…

  • When and where were you born?
  • Describe the house you lived in growing up.
  • What is your favorite hobby?
  • How did you meet your spouse? Describe the proposal.
  • What is your favorite memory of your wedding day?
  • Do you have any children? If so, what are their names?
  • What do you know about your family surname?
  • What is your favorite food?
  • What was the best advice your parents gave to you?
  • What was your favorite childhood toy?
  • Did any world events have a particularly strong impact on your life? If so, which ones?
  • Tell me about your childhood?
  • What did you do for work? What do you currently do for employment?
  • Tell me a memory from one of your favorite holidays.
  • What is your earliest childhood memory?
  • Do you have any special traditions?
  • What did you do together as a family?
  • If you could be remembered for one characteristic or attribute, what would it be and why?

The interviews don’t have to take a long time and can also be extended to include several short interviews. Have fun with them and enjoy getting to know better the person you interview. Don’t forget to record these interviews as well if you have access to an audio recorder or video camera (remember to ask for permission from the interviewee prior to recording).

If you want to get serious about your family history while doing the interviews, I invite you to check out You may just find a photo of your ancestor along with important birth, marriage, and death dates, certificates, and variety of other information about your ancestors. If the individual mentions a name of one of his or her siblings or grandparents, or other relatives, take the time to look them up on and see if you can gather even more information about your family members!

A Closer Look Into St. Mary’s County Cemetery Index

Friday, October 31st, 2008

St. Mary’s County Cemetery Index was recently launched at This index contains vital records from cemeteries located in St. Mary’s county. The database contains 4,194 records. Each record contains the name, birth date, death date, and the name of the cemetery. The database will be free to access on until November 1, 2008.

Many of the individuals in this database were buried in the following cemeteries: All Faith Episcopal, Charles Memorial Gardens, Evergreen Memorial Gardens, Holy Face, Our Ladys Catholic, Queen Of Peace, Sacred Heart Catholic, St Georges Catholic, St Georges Episcopal, St John Francis Regis, St Marks Uame, St Michaels Catholic, St Peter Claver, and St. Mary.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (his record is located on in the Find A Grave database), author of many well-known novels, including The Great Gatsby. He was originally buried in Rockville Union Cemetery with his wife Zelda Sayre. However, at the request their only child, the Women’s Club of Rockville had the couple’s bodies moved to his family’s plot in St. Mary’s. Fitzgerald’s epitaph is the final sentence from The Great Gatsby. It reads, “So we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past.” St. Mary’s cemetery is located Rockville, Maryland (next to the St. Mary’s Church on Veirs Mill Road).